April showers bring May flowers.....so is the case here in beautiful North Carolina! We have had our share of rain and BEAUTIFUL weather. The dogwood trees are in full bloom and the pines are exploding in beauty throughout the area.
This month has been what Elder Wadley and I would probably characterize as a month of Temple blessings. We have been able to attend the temple twice. Once for Zone Conference and once to attend with Brother and Sister Boucher from the Fort Bragg Military Ward who went through to receive their own endowments. We have been fortunate enough to teach them the Temple Preparation lessons. They will be sealed and have their children sealed to them next month. It was such a wonderful time in the Raleigh Temple with them and their many ward family members. They are the only members of either of their families. First generation's you might say! Sister Boucher was called last week as a counselor in the Primary Presidency and Brother Boucher is a teacher in the Elder's Quorum now. A really awesome family!
Our Zone Temple trip was wonderful! We all went thru the 10:30 session and then went over to the ward next door where President Taggart, the Raleigh Temple President talked to us about the temple and answered questions. We were fed lunch and then Elder Wadley and I ran to Costco for supplies and then hurried back to the post for a ward picnic "start the fast picnic." It turned out to be a very windy and cold late afternoon. Many families still came and quickly ate their dinner and left. For being so cold, it was really a pretty good turnout.
What a wonderful General Conference! How exciting to have 4 new temples announced! We loved hearing from our Prophet, President Thomas S. Monson, and took to heart his message on "Choices." Elder Wadley and I have seen so many tragedies because of people's poor choices. Satan is working overtime to fulfill his desire to stop the eternal progression of so many of our Heavenly Father's spirit children. He seems to be in full force here in the military. Families are torn apart and sadness abounds.
President Eyring talked about the letters he had received at his office written by converts whose feelings of love for the Lord were lessening and they feared if they couldn't regain that love, the trials of the day would overcome their faith. This definitely struck a note with Elder Wadley and myself because each day we go out and visit those who have lost a portion of their faith in the Lord and their love for Him. This is where member fellowship is ever so vital! If members only knew the impact they have on new converts and converts of a few years...they need an arm of love around them and sometimes a shoulder to cry on. It is so important.
We continue to make daily plans the night before to go out and make visits to new move-ins, less actives, those with spouses deployed, and anyone else the Relief Society President or Elder's Quorum President or High Priest Group Leader would like us to visit. It makes for a full day, but a very blessed day!
We had Zone Leadership Training on April 6th. This will be Elder Wion and Sister Pruner's last Zone Training. They will finish their missions on April 26th. Sister Pruner trained Elder Wadley and I in our first area (Cameron.) She will head back to Canada and Elder Wion to Las Vegas. Great servants of the Lord!
We have finished teaching the Montanez' their Temple Preparation lessons and they plan to receive their endowments in the Raleigh Temple the first part of May. We will be going with them. What an awesome young couple! They will be PCSing (permanent change of station) to the Pentagon the last of May and will be sealed in the Washington D.C. Temple (the temple Sister Montanez' mother and father were sealed in!) Sister Monanez is also joining the Army in D.C. We will have a farewell dinner for them in the next week or 2.
We have 2 or 3 Russian families in the Fort Bragg Military Ward now and we have been to visit all of them. It is so much fun to talk to them about where in Russia they are from and let them know of our son's experience when he served a mission there and our experience going there to pick him up. 2 are here to teach Russian to the Special Forces (new term for the Green Berets!) The other one works with artillery. Fun young families!
We had the Von Latta's over for dinner and games this month. They are a less active couple who were stationed in England in the Air Force the same time we were. We have made such a good friendship with them. They are having us over next week and want us to take a day trip with them to see a little miniature railroad town a couple of hours away. We will have to see if we are able to do that. They suggested it because we both lived near a wonderful little village in England that was famous for it's miniature railroad in the village. They have begun asking us some questions about the church and we are hoping that in time, they will see their way back to the Cameron Ward. They are wonderful people!
A sister living in northern Idaho apparently read our blog to find some missionaries serving in Fort Bragg who could contact her husband who just arrived here and see that he got to church. She has their car in Idaho so he is on foot until he flies back to bring the family here. We contacted him and he went to the ward picnic with us and came over to the house to visit afterwards. He and his wife are both from Lewiston, Idaho and they have 3 children. He is planning to fly back to bring the family out in about 3 weeks. We took him to church the next day and he came home and had dinner with us. It's been fun to get to know him!
Bishop Hamner of the Fort Bragg Military Ward said in Ward Council that the ward will be losing about 1/3 of its members due to PCS's. WOW! Actually, Cameron Ward will be losing a good amount as well. These wards are constantly transient. We receive a new move-in roster every month and there are at least 4 to 5 families on it. As many as move out, seem to be replaced by new ones and this is how the military wards survive! It's a lot of fun!!!!
We continue to go out to Camp MacKall to furnish Sacrament Meeting to the soldiers going through survival schools out there. We had a very spiritual thing happen when we went out on the 10th of April. Brother Wood, who is an instructor out there, usually accompanies us. He was ill and not able to go, so the 3 Senior Military Relations Couples went out for the first time alone. Elder Wadley and I have been going out for 8 months now, so we were familiar with everything we needed to do. When we got to the gate, we showed the guard our military I.D.'s and he looked on his sheet and said none of our names were on it. They had put both Elder Wadley's and my names and I.D. numbers on the sheet when we first started going out there. So the guard turned us away and we were driving off when Elder Wadley said, "wait a minute, pull over please." He told me later that he had said a little prayer and asked Heavenly Father, "what would Brother Wood do if he were here?" He determined that he would call Chaplain Cottle, who is the chaplain out at Camp MacKall, to see if he could get us in. So this is what he did. He had his number and called him. Chaplain Cottle answered and was so kind! He said, "oh no problem, you go back to the gate and I'll have my assistant come and get you through." That is exactly what happened. We found out afterwards that the names only stay on the record for 6 months and then they have to be renewed. So we took care of that and the assistant told us that there were 3 LDS military members who were wondering if there was going to be LDS services. When we got to the classroom, in walked the 3 as we were setting chairs up and the men were preparing the Sacrament. It happened to be Fast and Testimony Meeting. We sang the opening hymn, had the opening prayer and had the Sacrament and then we had the bearing of testimonies. One of the soldiers stood up and began to cry and said, "I have been waiting all week for this meeting and when I walked in and it was dark, I was so discouraged and then when I found out that you were on your way, I thought to myself, "the Lord didn't let me down. He knew how much I needed this today." He continued crying and before long, everyone in the room was crying. Before the meeting came to a close, Elder Wadley got up and explained the circumstances of our being a bit late and we all knew and witnessed the Lord's hand in allowing us to be able to bring the Sacrament to these soldier's who are going thru some of the most trying times in their young lives. What a faith promoting experience that has been for us - probably one of the most faith promoting experiences we have had thus far on our mission.
We have begun teaching 2 other couples the Temple Prep lessons. The Cameron Elders have accompanied us to one of the families, since they have been working to reactivate them. It has been such a very sweet experience! The Wightman's have a darling little girl, Victoria, who just sits on my lap during the lessons and I show her her toys and she is so good. Brother Wightman has been a member all of his life and sister Wightman has been a member a couple of years. They are both from Colorado Springs and will be going back there around November and want to be sealed in the temple before they go back. What a blessing in their lives!
We continue to visit the Kirby's. Sister Kirby has stage 4 breast cancer and bone cancer and Brother Kirby takes care of her. It is almost too much for him. He is 82 years old. Elder Wadley takes Brother Kirby to get groceries and pick up medicine for Sister Kirby and Sister Wadley visits with Sister Kirby while they are gone. We had to help Brother Kirby and another young man he knows, move Sister Kirby from one bed to another bed. That was quite challenging because she is in a fair amount of pain. Sister Wadley has had some very spiritual visits with Sister Kirby. She knows so much about the scriptures and she always ends our visits with "only the Lord knows." She has so much faith. Brother Kirby's friend, Pedro, had surgery on his sinuses and so Elder Wadley and I have been driving him back and forth to doctor's appointments along with helping Brother Kirby get supplies he needs.
Two of our deployed fathers have finally come home!!! Brother Ralston got home from Germany on the 11th and Brother Welsh came back from Camp MacKall on the 14th. Brother Walker still has 8 months to go and Brother Dunn should be home mid June. Soooo long for these families! But as most of them tell us, "this is our life!"
We had a Young Single Adult baptism on the 16th as well as a child of record. Poi from Hawaii became a member of the church! What a great man! He has been attending the Branch for about 5 months now and the Family Home Evenings as well. His roommate, Jason, in the barracks on post baptized him. He is from Tonga. What a very spiritual evening that was! So many YSA members attended and supported him. He wanted to get baptized before returning home to Hawaii for some leave. He will be put to good use in the branch! Brother and Sister Dagley's son was also baptized. She is the Young Women President and Brother Dagley is the Ward Executive Secretary. After the baptism, Sister Wadley was walking down the hall and President Willard's daughter Angelee, was just standing there leaning against the wall in her cute long skirt and shirt, waiting for her family to come. She was just going to have her 9th birthday party that day. President Willard is the Elder's Quorum President and he and his wife have been members about 3 years. Sister Wadley went up to her and told her how cute she looked today. She very shyly said thank you. Sister Wadley then said, "you are going to make a great missionary some day! Well...actually, you are a missionary RIGHT NOW! She looked up at Sister Wadley and so very innocently said, "well, I'm not a missionary now because my mom and dad still own us!" Elder Wadley and I have gotten such a kick out of that!
It has been the Fort Bragg Military Ward's month to clean the stake center so Elder Wadley and I have been going each Saturday morning to help out. He is now a professional industrial vacuum handler and Sister Wadley is now a professional toilet cleaner! The members make it a fun time!
We traveled down to Wilmington near the Atlantic Coast for our 4 Zone Conference on the 13th of April. We met in a stake center there and had instruction from President James and his Counselor, President Catlett, who is in the Fayetteville Stake and is a dentist in Fayetteville. We had met him the first week he was called to be in the mission presidency. He came to the Cameron Ward's Gospel Principles Class. After the instruction, which included all of the missionaries who are completing their missions bearing their testimonies (Elder Wion and Sister Hesen!), we had a nice lunch put on by one of the Relief Societies there and then headed over to walk thru some botanical gardens. It was a really nice day. It was about 2 1/2 hours away and we had all 3 Cameron Elders in the back seat. Two of them are big elders....they were crunched but accepted it so graciously and were so appreciative of the drive. We had a bag of goodies for each of them and plenty of water.
On the 15th we drove to Aberdeen and picked up Sister Hesen and her companion and took them to Pic 'n Pig for lunch to say goodbye to Sister Hesen. We had such a fun time! She asked us to write in her testimony journal. Parting is such sweet sorrow! Sister Wadley has made sure she has given each of the missionaries in our district our home address and told them that we expect wedding announcements sent to us! They all just laugh at her and tell her they for sure will do it!
Laura, one of the YSA members returned from her TDY on the 16th. We have been watering her plants for her while she has been gone. She lives in a nice apartment right on the post.
We have had Sacrament Meetings out to Camp MacKall every Sunday in April. Elder Wadley and I spoke on the 17th out there. I spoke on President Monson's talk this month at General Conference on "Choices" and Elder Wadley spoke about his experience with prayer when he was flying in Desert Storm. We feel like both of them went very well.
They are installing a new form of checking our military I.D.'s when we enter the post. On the 19th of this month, Elder Wadley and I had left the post at 9:30 in the morning to head up to Linden Oaks and the traffic coming into the post was backed up for about 2 miles! Hopefully, this won't last long.
Our oldest child, Kathryn, turned 41 on April 21st. We were able to travel over for the day to Charlotte to wish her a happy birthday. The GRANDkids were so excited to see us. We took everyone out to eat at Olive Garden and had a great time. We surprised her with a wreath for her front door....made entirely of flip flops and flowers for summer. We THINK she liked it! She said she did. We say this because it is pretty BIG and pretty WILD!!! Happy birthday Bogie!
The YSA Branch is exploding with active members! On the 17th there were 61 in attendance at Sacrament Meeting and on the 24th there were 42. President and Sister Dickerson and the entire branch council have done a super job in activating the less active. We also have several who are home for the summer from school and about 5 here for the summer working for Vivent. There are many many very beautiful homes in Pinehurst, where the US Open Golf Tournament has been held twice! We're sure many of them are having security systems installed.
Elder Hancock from the Cameron area is being transferred on the 26th. He has been such a super missionary! Didn't have any intention of serving a mission, but thru many visits with his Young Men leader and caring ward leaders, decided he needed to do this and has been outstanding! Cameron has been his first area. We really hate to see him go. We have sent so many elders and sisters off to other areas or home from their missions, and it is always a sad time. Sister Wadley makes sure each of them have our home address and she tells them she expects an invitation to their wedding receptions! They always get a real kick out of that!
We had a very spiritual experience happen just when we were driving home from the Fort Bragg Military Ward's Missionary Correlation Meeting on the night of the 24th. First of all, I need to tell you that Sister Robison had approached Sister Wadley during church on Sunday and asked if there was any way we could come to the Missionary Correlation Meeting her husband holds in their home every Sunday evening. She said the ward really needs some "adult" supervision and ideas and attending this meeting would be so helpful. It used to be during the week night with the previous Ward Mission Leader. Anyway we talked it over and decided this is where we were needed, since the other 2 senior Military Relations Couples always go out. We had a very productive missionary meeting and had just about gotten home when we received a phone call from a member of the Fort Bragg Ward. She was having some difficulty at her house and wondered if we might be able to come over and help sort it out. This was about 9:30 p.m. We said you bet, and away we went. We ended up getting home about 10:30, but were able to really help someone out who was desperately in need. Another testimony to us of following the spirit and of seeing the Lord's hand in His work.
We have been feeling the affects of realizing that we are on the "down hill" portion of our mission and it makes us so sad. We have truly met some wonderful people, both members and non-members. They have strengthened our love for our country, for the gospel and for our Savior, Jesus Christ. The military life is a hard life, but if that is all you know, as was our case for 20 years...then that is your life and you live it and love it! When a wife tells us of her husband's upcoming year deployment and she will stay here at Ft. Bragg with 2, 3, 4 or 5 children, it makes us stop and think, "oh my word, so long!" How is she ever going to do it. They just smile and continue raising their children and teaching them the gospel. It is really something to see!
In one of our District Meetings in April, Elder Christiansen instructed and encouraged us on Self-Reflection. He said that we need to practice: obedience, prayer, being consistent and focus on what we CAN do and not on what we CAN'T do. It was a great reminder and one that all of the missionaries can ponder and practice!
We have begun to see an influx of members coming and going with the summer approaching. We have already begun going to member's homes and telling them goodbye. It makes us feel sad because we feel like we have just gotten to know them and their children and now they are moving away. Some of these families include the Welsh family, the Marble family, the Scroggins family, the Atkinson family, etc. Great members with strong testimonies that will see them thru their military careers. We have also been able to welcome several new families: The Hodges family, the Clayton family, and several in the Young Single Adult Branch. Many are coming to work for Vivent Security Systems for the summer. Others have come home from BYU Idaho, BYU, missions, etc. Very fun and exciting! We have had upwards of 30 out to the YSA Family Home Evening. We have had several of them over to our house to get to know them, or ones President Dickerson has asked us to fellowship due to personal problems. They are great soldiers and trying to do their best to fulfill both their military and church responsibilities.
It has really rained a lot this month. Several Monday evenings out at President Dickerson's home have been pouring down rain! No wonder this place is so green and beautiful!
The Fort Bragg Military Ward has begun having "Begin the Fast" picnic's at the park here on Pope Army Air Field. Each family brings their own meal and then a dessert to share with everyone. So far the 2 we have attended have been very good! There is covered tables and a nice play area for the children. We have been able to bring a few new families to the picnic which gives them an opportunity to meet the members before their first Sunday. This has been a big help, since Sunday's are always so busy!
We were able to enjoy a really fun YSA Family Home Evening out top President Chandler's home in Pinehurst this month. His daughter, Madison, just returned from a mission to Rome, Italy and she made lasagna for everyone. They have a huge home and a big family room, so for the activity President Dickerson showed slides of his company installing the bell at the top of the Nauvoo Temple. He told how President Hinckley came to inspect it and wanted to climb the 3 flights of narrow wooden stairs to touch the bell. His body guards told him they didn't think that was a good idea but he insisted. We saw pictures of him touching it. He was also presented a replica at his office, along with the First Presidency. The bell was purchased by the Larry Miller family and the entire family came to present it to the First Presidency. President Hinckley asked if he could strike the bell with the rubber mallet there and President Dickerson said, "yes you can President Hinckley." He hit it and then asked if he could hit it harder and President Dickerson again said he could hit it as hard as he wanted to. He continued banging and banging after which President Faust said, "Gordon STOP THAT!" At that point, President Hinckley looked at him and gave a great big swing with the mallet and hit the bell as hard as he could! It was a really enjoyable presentation. Afterwards, everyone played ping pong and a great time was had by all. We drove the Zone Leaders home that night and had a fun trip home.
Earlier, I wrote about a little comment the Fort Bragg Military Ward's Elder's Quorum President's 9 year old daughter said to Sister Wadley after a child of record baptism at the Stake Center. Elder and Sister Wadley were leaving and Angele was standing in the hall waiting for her family to come and Sister Wadley approached her and told her how cute she looked this morning. She kind of sheepishly said, "thank you." Sister Wadley then said, "you know, you look just like a missionary!" Angele looked up at her and just as serious as can be said, "I'm not a missionary yet, my parents still own us." Oh that was soooo funny! Sister Wadley then said, "well you sure are a missionary now because of how kind you are to your friends and your brothers. She smiled and shook her head like she agreed. We told her parents about it and they just laughed and laughed. Speaking of her parents, her dad flies the Black Hawk helicopter and he texted Elder Wadley one day and told him that he was going to be landing his Black Hawk at Pic 'n Pig, a BBQ restaurant on a landing strip in the little town of Carthage. He said his family was going to be there and would we like to join them for dinner and family home evening. We were so excited because the restaurant is always sending out notices of when military helicopters will be landing and we have wanted to be there for that. We called the Cameron Elders to see if they wanted to join us. We got a text later in the day from President Willard saying it is closed on Mondays! He said, "I guess they close for Family Home Evening!!!" We'll do it another time before we leave our mission.
We saw a perfect example of a member who could very easily have just hidden out and never been found, but decided she wanted to stay active and attend church, even though her husband was in training in Virginia. Sister Stacey is such a great person! We saw her sitting by herself one Sunday, so Sister Wadley went up and introduced herself. She said that she was living with her brother and his wife and their little 1 year old boy while her husband was at AIT at Ft. Lee in Virginia. She said he would be gone until December. We asked her where she lived and she said in Linden Oaks (which is a military housing area about 15 minutes from Ft. Bragg.) We went to visit her and we asked for "Stacy" when a lady opened the door. She looked a little puzzled and then said, "oh you mean Hillary. Stacey is her last name!" Sister Stacey came to the door and we had a nice visit with her. The next Sunday she was back again and we sat with her and she said that she hadn't been active for about 10 years. She is from Brigham City. She said she and her husband will be married 2 years in August. They were married in Bear Lake and on their first anniversary they were sealed in the Logan Temple. She said she had been teaching Primary for the last year until her husband joined the Army. She stayed for all 3 meetings and came into Gospel Principles with us! She is such a sweet, sweet lady and we are going to hopefully take her to Stake Conference on the 14th of May. She is able to drive to Ft. Lee every other weekend to spend the weekend with her husband. Her brother isn't a member and she said he doesn't like the Mormon Church. Her sister-in-law is Catholic but told her she would probably come to church a few times with her this summer. A perfect example of someone who has the desire to keep her testimony strong, even thru difficult circumstances and at a time where she could have chosen to just "not be found."
One of the areas we go in to visit members of the Cameron Ward quite often is Carolina Lakes. It is a gated community and we need to be invited in. The gate guards know us as we are always coming and going. One day one of the gate guards walked up to the car and asked Elder Wadley, "do you need to wear that tie everyday?" We laughed and Elder Wadley told him, "I sure do," The guard then said, "well, good for you YOUNG MAN!" He was probably our age. We all laughed and he sent us through the gate!
We are beginning to see all the mushrooms come out on our lawn again! We thought back when we first moved onto the post and we saw several blooming in the yard. They are popping up again with the weather becoming warmer. Just another fond reminder for us of North Carolina. We will miss this place so much!
BSA activities and involvement always hold a special place in my heart. Sister Wadley and I attended a huge Cameron Ward fundraiser at the end of the month for the Scout's summer camp. It was a spaghetti dinner and auction. The scouts cooked and served a nice pasta meal with french bread and tossed salad. There were many baked goods and other items available for auction. The auction also included several other services, such as fishing, cleaning, and planting, etc. as well as special events, like car, boat and plane rides! We have never seen a better turnout, scouting displays, wonderful fellowship, and very successful fundraiser. It was amazing, and we and the full-time "young" missionaries were able to visit with several investigators and new members. Fun evening.
We send our love to all those who read our blog, and want you to know how much we are enjoying serving the Lord on a full-time basis.